Daily news roundups

Pontius named MLS Comeback Player of the Year, Blake named PST’s Goalkeeper of the Year, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Chris Pontius has been named MLS Comeback Player of the Year, beating out Frank Lampard, Kevin Molino, Jozy Altidore, and Bill Hamid (“The award was voted on by MLS club management, media, and current MLS players.”). And quite right, too. As Matt Bodiford notes at the Union website, “In 2016, Pontius set career-highs in games played (33), games started (32), minutes played (2,571), goals scored on the road (7), assists (6) and shots on goal (35). He matched his career goal total with 12.” Pontius later tweeted:

At Delco Times, Matthew De George notes, “Pontius joins Keegan Rosenberry, the 2016 MLS Fair Play Award winner, and Sebastien Le Toux (2010 MLS Best XI, 2010 and 2011 MLS Fair Play Awards), as the only Union players ever to earn [league end-of-season] awards.” More at Philadelphia Union, MLSsoccer.com (video), Philly.com, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, Pro Soccer Talk, and Goal.com.

More end of the year honors as Pro Soccer Talk have named Andre Blake their Goalkeeper of the Year: “PST’s voting for Goalkeeper of the Year was completely unanimous…Blake was simply phenomenal for the Union”. Blake, who is also up for MLS’s Goalkeeper of the Year award, was named Goal.com’s Goalkeeper of the Year on Wednesday.

The final fan vote for the Union’s Player of the Year will be between Andre Blake and Keegan Rosenberry. Click here to cast your vote.

A review of each MLS team’s top offseason acquisition priority from Will Parchman at MLSsoccer.com says the Union’s top pririty is “A primetime center back” Parchman explains, “It might surprise you to learn the Union actually scored more goals than Toronto FC in 2016. But the lack of center back depth killed the Union, especially in the playoffs where stand-in Ken Tribbett was beaten in the box two separate times in the ultimate playoff loss to TFC. The Union are young and good in a lot of places, but they need to splash cash on a major center back.”

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph has more from the YSC Academy open house on Tuesday.

Local

NCAA men’s soccer championship tournament play begins today. Villanova, who are in the tournament for the first time, are on the road to face Akron today at 5 pm (you can watch a livestream of the game here, although, as is the case with the livestream links that follow, I’m not sure if a subscription is required). Delaware is in Rhode Island to face Providence tonight at 7 pm (livestream here). Rider is on the road to face University of Vermont, also at 7 pm (beginning at 6:50 pm at AmericanEast.TV).

MLS

Former Union man Zac MacMath says of starting for the injured Tim Howard for Colorado in the Western Conference semifinals (and beyond to the MLS Cup final if the Rapids advance, “This is as big of an opportunity as I’ll get.” More at Goal.com.

DC United have acquired midfielder Argentine midfielder Luciano Acosta on a permanent transfer from Boca Juniors, the club from which he was on loan for the 2016 season. Acosta joins the club as  Designated Player “for the majority of his contract. Targeted Allocation Money will be used to buy down his salary budget charge for the 2017 season.” The announcement notes, “The transfer fee paid to Boca Juniors is the largest paid in D.C. United club history and the total investment into Acosta is the highest in nearly a decade.”

Official: Kansas City have re-signed Benny Feilhaber through 2018.

Kansas City have also re-signed defender Ike Opara “to a new contract through 2017 with team options for 2018 and 2019.”

Portland Timbers have named recently retired from playing Ned Grabavoy as director of scouting and recruitment.

The Oregonian reports, “Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson pleaded no contest Wednesday to being drunk when he rear-ended another driver in Lake Oswego in October and was allowed by a judge to enter an alcohol diversion program.”

Goal.com reports, “Minnesota United has chosen Adrian Heath to be the head coach for the team’s first season in MLS, sources confirmed”.

On the downtown location favored by the backers of Detroit’s bid for a MLS franchise, businessman Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores, sits a half-completed county jail, construction of which was halted in 2013 after some $151 million had been spent. An evaluation of the state of the construction that has been completed thus far shows no structural damage to the work that is already done and county executives say construction can resume next year. But Gilbert and Gores aren’t giving up on the site yet. Gilbert tells the Detroit News, “[T]here’s ongoing negotiations and talks. We are hopeful still. It’s complex.” Matt Cullen, president and CEO of Gilbert’s Rock Ventures, said in a statement, “The current jail site on Gratiot Avenue sits right in the middle of some of the city’s best venues like Ford Field and Greektown and serves as the ‘front door’ to the city. We believe the right development for that site is something that enhances the city and fuels the continued revitalization of Detroit. We remain committed to exploring an exciting and distinct large-scale development that will bring jobs, an increased tax base and substantial economic activity to our burgeoning urban core.”

Nashville Business Journal on how that city’s chance at landing a MLS franchise stack up against other cities looking to land one.

US

The Washington Post on why now is the time to fire Jurgen Klinsmann. More calls for his dismissal at Philly VoiceESPN, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Vice Sports. Los Angeles Times calls for the return of Bruce Arena. Fox SoccerCBS Sports and Yahoo Sports review possible replacements for Klinsmann.

Headline at The Ringer: “The USMNT Doesn’t Have a Manager: Jürgen Klinsmann might stand on the sideline, but he still hasn’t done anything to help his team win.”

How about a list of reasons why Klinsmann is the worst USMNT coach of the modern era.

Deadspin suggests the US still needs Klinsmann as technical director to guide player development, just not as head coach.

CBS Sports on why Klinsmann should not be fired.

ASN says “the ball is in Gulati’s court” when it comes to turning the USMNT around.

At Soccer America, a “by the numbers” review of the USMNT’s performance in past Hexagonal rounds begins, “What has been the secret to the USA’s past success in the Hexagonal? Almost complete invincibility at home and on the road except at Costa Rica and Mexico. It has usually gotten off to fast starts and clinched early every time with comfortable margins. The 2016-17 Hexagonal could be a lot different.”

ESPN notes the US isn’t the only World Cup regular facing challenges to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Other countries include Argentina, Netherlands, Japan, and Ghana.

World Soccer Talk notes attendance for USMNT home games in 2016 is down 23 percent compared to 2015, with a reported attendance total of 415,903 for 14 games, which averages out to 29,707 per game. “In 2016, every single friendly for the US Men’s National Team was attended by less than 10,000 people. In fact, this trend stretches back to October 2015, making it six consecutive friendlies with an attendance of under 10,000.” Attendance for the USWNT at home is down 42 percent compared to 2015, which included the extended victory tour following the Women’s World Cup win that year. Reported attendance over 21 games for 2016 totals 335,433, averaging 15,973 per game.

The US defeated New Zealand 3-1 in New Guinea today in their second group game at the U-20 Women’s World Cup. The team, who is now top of their group after drawing 0-0  with France in the opening game, faces Ghana on Monday at 1 am (FS1, NBC Universo).

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “FIFA’s ethics committee has imposed a one-year ban on Qatar’s candidate for election to the ruling council of world football’s governing body. The committee ruled that Saoud Al-Mohannadi ‘did not cooperate with the investigatory chamber in the proceedings against a third party.'”

Also from the AP: “Russian investigators are pressing graft charges against a former deputy governor of St. Petersburg linked to the construction of a trouble-plagued stadium that is to host World Cup matches in 2018.”

And this from the AP: “Barcelona has a new jersey sponsorship deal with Japanese company Rakuten worth 55 million euros ($59 million) a year until 2021.” $59 million a year. A year.

27 Comments

  1. congrats to Pontius. was glad we got him and he did a great job all around.

    yes, i want a stronger back line. next to a striker, we need a CB.

    i really want Detroit to get that jail site. cool factor alone should will it into existence. simple marketing campaign: “[sad face emoji] jail. [happy face emoji] stadium

    US Soccer attendance: ticket prices or A) poor quality (men) B) fatigue (women)?

    • US Soccer is a combination of high ticket prices and the fact that a fair number of the friendlies are on Tuesday nights to coincide with the FIFA calendar.

    • Also major credit to the Union’s sport science/training staff.
      .
      When they made the move for Pontius I remember something being said at the press conference that they felt confident they could keep him healthy, and they did.

  2. Wow, I just can’t believe that Pontius beat out Lampard for Comeback Player. /sarcasm

  3. These trophies everybody gets for playing in MLS… so cute.
    .

  4. Blake and Rosenberry are neck and neck in the voting, almost as close as the popular vote for president. I wonder when they’ll start with the negative campaigning. (I can see it now…Rosenberry threatening to get Blake sent back to Jamaica and Blake calling Rosenberry “Lying Keegan” and both calling the supporters of the other one “Deplorables”)

  5. Ax might be falling later today.

  6. Damn the National team chatter has coaxed me out…. for good reason though.
    .
    Regarding Klinsman…. weren’t we just here a little while ago… FIRE FIRE FIRE after a few lackluster results, was it a drubbing by Colombia in a friendly in England following by a loss to either Guatemala or Honduras in qualification?
    .
    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the team regroup and go on to qualify rather easily? Two of the three most difficult games are out of the way for Russia in the Hex and I’ll concede a loss in Mexico… so what’s to worry about.
    .
    The team will regroup and be fine… my concerns are the formation, in light of what appeared to be stability not too long ago with Cameron, Brooks, and consistent OBs ( Yedlin, Johnson, Garza, Besler). For me this is a no brainer.
    .
    It’s almost like JK is trying to invent ways to keep a two striker formation and yet manage to have Bradley and Jones on the field at the same time…
    .
    A midfield of Johnson, Pulisic and Sacha… Bradley still I guess.
    A striking combo of Altidore (if he must) and Wood.
    .
    .
    People want to shit can the guy who just finished third in the Copa America… Fucking stunning in its stupidity. Who ya bringing in? Bruce? Oh yeah thats swell. Who else? MLS lacky? That’s gonna push the envelope… set the country back 15 years… we’re gonna give it the OLD AMERICAN TRY>>>>
    .
    Take a paper bag and breath deep… relax.
    .
    If the damn US media pushed this hard to shit can the guy in charge maybe ewe’d get somewhere.

    • As always, well said. A) Deja vu with 2012 on my mind. This is the same chatter that existed before the Snow Bowl; B) who can replace JK that’s better in the middle of a qualifying campaign?
      I truly believe JK does this on purpose: break down the psychy of his players (and everyone else), then builds them back up again to peak at just the right time. mind games. Not saying I like it, but as el P said above, we’ve seen this movie before.
      PS: yes, the Union have some breaks in the spine – need a quality CB as well as a striker towards the neck.

    • Do you believe Klinsmann is capable of doing better than fourth (we lost the to Columbia in the runners up match) in the Copa America? I’m not. You’re point is well taken on Gulati. And the point on Arena is even better. I think Klinsmann has done a pretty good job as tech director and scout, but not as a manager. But he’s earned a firing. And if you have doubts, now is the time for a change. Not next year.

    • I have been calling for JK’s head for years. He is a complete moron regarding tactics and personnel. People have been giving him WAAAY to much credit for things such as making it out of the so called “group of death” in 2014 (it wasn’t) and for the Copa result (By the way…third? We lost the third place match), we beat Ecuador to get into the semi…not really that impressive (nothing against Ecuador).
      Honestly I would take anyone as coach…how about you? Anyone else on the planet would have more sense than JK. Would you play a known to be reckless and positionally unsound JJ coming off a 3 month injury and not even close to match fit? Would you play a ridiculous formation that was barely practiced against a major CONCACAF rival? Would you continually throw your players under the bus (including some of your best players) and not take responsibility for you piss-poor decisions and continually repeat stupid meaningless phrases like “We have to be brave” like it meant something? Not to mention his complete failure on the Technical Director side. NCAA is still the raging ball of corruption and leeching of talent it ever was. Sure there are academies being built, but that has nothing to do with JK.

      OK apparently I’m angrier than I thought…rant over.

    • Isn’t this what soccer nations do? Go over the top with reactions to losses and fire a coach early in a qualification process?

      This process is just the US getting our big boy pants on from a soccer perspective.

      BTW, just because someone either played or coached in MLS doesn’t mean that they are somehow responsible for the single-entity system. Arena has been a very successful manager for the USMNT and took many risks by giving young players (Donovan, Beasley, Convey, etc.) major roles in his teams. So adjust your calibration as you’re aiming at the wrong target.

  7. BTW funny how Will Parchman and I agree which is only occasionally… The team is indeed in need of a proper CB…
    .
    Which pushes Richie to bench as a very serviceable but non game day member of the first team 18.

  8. Blake was just named MLS Keeper of the Year.

  9. Congrats to Pontius and Blake. Both awards are deserved for sure. Good to see some recognition.
    .
    ESPN reported US Soccer has been gauging interest in JK’s replacement since last year. Interesting news…

    • And Rosenberry. He won Fair Play award.

      • Ah yes. Sorry forgot about that. Nice to see the U represented

      • Sorry got to harp on this, but I do not see a defender winning the fair play award as a good thing. Now I don’t want him picking up cards left and right and fouling people, but it could also be read as a lack of aggression and intensity. Watching Rosenberry play for the season he does lack some physicality and aggression on the defensive side of the ball vs stronger players he easily gets shoved off the ball. Hopefully this will come with time. Oh and in the offseason I really hope the coaches teach him to not get beat to the inside as it is still his weakest point in his game and put both Yaro and Tribbet on an island when it happens.

      • Agreed, always good to see a defender give a hard foul in safe part of the field just to let the attacker know that he’s there.

      • Fair.
        .
        As a defender though you know he is making tackles and, mostly making them in areas that would be dangerous to give a free kick away so it is good that he kept it clean.
        .
        Agree about the physicality point and not getting beat to the inside though.

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